Tellico Adventure Trail aka Smokey Mountain 500 Super Enduro trip, April 6-8th, 2018 KTM 950 Super Enduro group ride report Two Wheels of Suches in north Georgia I've had my 2007 KTM 950 Super Enduro for 4 or 5 years now. Fantastic bike, IMHO there's just not another bike like it out there. If your needs are similar, try to find one to take a test ride on, but don't do it unless you have the money for one, as all other bikes will feel "tame" after riding the beasts. They are a bit of an anomaly and even though they are fairly substantial, they do have very capable off road abilities. The past few years more of my friends have bought Super Enduros and I run a small email list for some of the 950 SE riders in the area. So a group ride was planned. With that in mind we were looking for a couple of day trip that would allow us to stretch the boundaries of big bike (well, our boundaries) as well as have time to hang out and talk about riding, life and a few good beers. I found a thread on ADV Rider about the Smokey Mountain 500 which seemed to have some great routes, but more oriented towards larger and more street oriented machines (BMW 12GS, V-strom, etc) while we were looking for a bit more of a challenge. I came upon aother thread in the southeast with discussions of the Tellico Adventure trail, a +P version (for those familiar with shooting, +P rounds are high velocity rounds that maybe exceed the factory specs). So with help from Kyle/Baggi'tard at the Farmhouse Inn (fantastic bed and breakfast in Tellico Plains) we made our plans. I had assumed (uh oh, you know what happens next, right?) that if we made plans for April we should be good to go. An open window for me and checked with some friends and it looked like it was going to come together. With the core group of 3 950 Super Enduro riders, one friend from Florida on a Triumph 800XC (who did fantastic) and two other soon to be friends on 950 SE’s as well, it was “game on”. I had some issues and was still getting gear together Thursday night as I drove to Suches to meet with Steve and Jeff B (there were three Jeffs on the trip, my fourth friend Jeff with a SE couldn’t make it). Nice meal in Dahlonega and we got to Two Wheels of Suches just as it was getting dark. Unloaded the bikes, got our room at the lodge (fantastic base camp for riding street or dirt in GA) and went thru our gear. The weekend weather forecast showed it should be nice Friday, but wet and cooler as the weekend went on (low of 35 or so Saturday night in Tellico Plains). Um yeah right. Friday morning dawned overcast and cool but great riding weather. We packed our bags, ate some breakfast and waited for everyone to arrive. Thor rode his SE up from Marietta and Josh/Bearded Hooligan rode his SE over from Helen and his parents place (he lives in south GA and did a crazy long (14k mile?) ride last summer to Alaska and back on his SE). He also took a lot of the (better) photos below, great photographer as well. We made introductions and hit the road. That lasted about a mile and it was off into the dirt. Flatlands road just out of Suches. I had thought this would be the most technical riding of the trip, as it’s a pretty rutted out jeep trail that is a challenge, and the added moisture (rain the past few days) just added to the fun. Most of us had ridden this many times. The conditions made it a bit more fun, and we had a few tip overs (the Triumph decided that we should check the bottom of its bellypan) but we got thru pretty quickly and everyone was still in high spirits! Then quite a bit of forest service roads (Cooper Creek area), Helton Creek falls and more creek crossings, some good pavement towards Helen on the Richard Russel highway and then more dirt headed north. Today was going to be a long day with lots of miles, mostly dirt. Cooper Creek WMA Suches GA Cooper Creek WMA Suches GA Our next “fun” section was Upper Hightower and Charlies Creek towards Clayton. This is one of my favorite sections, as it’s just fun FS roads, nothing too challenging, but with some nice “jumps” and creek crossing, capped off with a long river crossing of the Tallulah River. My first tip over (of many) was here. Foot slipped as I was stopping and over she went. Charlies Creek water crossing Charlies Creek water crossing Charlies Creek water crossing We got out to Persimmon and decided to detour to Clayton for a good bite to eat. Ride to Eat, Eat to ride is my motto. Josh had a good back road route into Clayton (right across from my friend Clays’ house actually!) so we went in and had a fantastic meal at Universal Joint. We still had a lot of ground to cover, so we chowed down and hit the road. North towards Franklin, we soon detoured off the main route and started down more dirt roads. Nice sections, another detour that I knew of to Wayah Bald for a view (overcast still but we could see decently enough) and then more dirt. Wayah Bald Somewhere in the Nantahala National Forest Highlight of this section for me was a trip down Needmore Road along the Little Tennessee river. I’ve driven this section many times in college on my way to the Nantahala river for kayaking and MTB but first trip on the bike. Third and fourth gear pinned on a dirt road along side a river in the misting rain and perfect traction conditions while listening to the big twin eat is something that’s hard to describe. Plus knowing the Rivers End restaurant was waiting with some warm food and dry seats had us all running along at a good clip. Well that was till my bike died about 2 miles from the restaurant. Quickly figured out that I had run out of gas (those that have seen my bike will get a laugh out of that, as I have a HUGE 6 gallon clear tank on the SE) but evidently I have now killed TWO fuel level senders as I never bothered to look at the tank because the light never came on. DOH! Steve had some cordage so we hooked his footpeg and made a wrap or two around my bars and he pulled me to the gas station (about a mile or so) with the others following behind. Filled up and headed to dinner. Rivers End restaurant at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, NC Fantastic meal at Rivers End, and then a short ride into Robbinsville and Two Wheels Inn. Cool little hotel with a small garage next to each room. We even fit three bikes into our “garage”. Hung out and talked for a while about the day and made plans for Saturday. First day was about 200 miles of good riding. Two Wheels Inn, Robbinsville NC Got up, decided to head on the trails and south towards Andrews and get breakfast there, so we would have time to see how the gear was and make any changes after breakfast (rain, cold, etc). We were probably a strange sight at the Hardees but the food was warm and it was quick and easy. Headed out and hit some fun dirt road from there. We hit Tatham Gap Road (aka Gravel Dragon), part of the trail of tears that removed the Cherokee indians to Oklahoma. Built in 1836. Tatham Gap Road Tatham Gap Road Tatham Gap Road Around 11am we hit a section that started pretty fun, a bit of a rocky road bed, wet from the rain, slick, and right next to a beautiful mountain cascade. Did I mention it was wet, rocky and raining/misting? And getting steeper? We continued and ran into a few shorter sections where we had to do some “scouting” to find good lines. One section we decided to spot the rider as we crushed a set or two of Cycra and Highway Dirt Bike bar ends (good ones). Squally Creek Road Squally Creek Road Squally Creek Road Squally Creek Road Squally Creek Road Squally Creek Road Once you drop a 450lb bike once or twice, it gets pretty tiring just keeping the bike upright in rocky sections. We rode a couple of miles like this and realized it was about 3pm and we hadnt’ had lunch. Plus we didn’t really know how far it continued like this. Thor and I rode up a ways and got to a partially falling apart bridge and rocky creek crossing and decided that as a group it was time to throw in the towel and head back. So back down we went. But instead of feeling defeated (ok we were pretty tired at this point), we were pretty happy with our performance and teamwork in the technical riding. Each of us had some good sections that we cleared and besides a banged up ankle, no major issues. We went back to Robbinsville and had lunch at a local diner and then headed across the “dirt cherahala” (FS81 and North River road) and Tellico Plains. I must admit that Kyle from Farmhouse Inn had sent me a text with some route changes given the weather and our bikes/loads but since I didn’t really know any of the routes or roads besides just following the blue track on my GPS, I just ASSUMED it would be an adventure, right??? Thor and I split off at one point to see if we could get over to Trail 82 before it got dark but it got pretty cold and the light was fading fast, so we turned back and headed to Farmhouse Inn. We all get there, checked in, met up with Chris/MofoFlake (our 5th Super Enduro) took showers and headed across the street for dinner. After a quick meal, we went back to the Farmhouse Inn and spent some time playing pool and admiring the moto paraphanalia in the “game room” at the inn. Off to some much needed sleep and Saturday was in the books. Sunday dawned more clear and cool. Fantastic breakfast at the Inn and packed the bikes for the last day. We had some bike issues that took some time to sort out, so we split up a bit. Josh had to get back to Helen and then drive back to south GA, Steve and Jeff B headed the quick way back to Suches in case I needed a trailer and to get a head start on driving back to FL. My bike was at 6 bars after warming up and a cold radiator. Quick removal of the tank showed that my radiator was dry. Filled it up and off to the races. Thor, Chris and I, along with Kyle on a Husaberg 390 headed off in search of Trail 81. More FS roads and we arrived. Chris was having some front brake issues so he detoured to the finish so the three of us hit the trail. Wet/muddy conditions, but overall it was a great section of trail. Sure it was steep if you mess up, but we had a blast and we all enjoyed it. Similar to a 2 or 3 diamond trail at Highland Park but with a bit more drop off. That's why I carry a winch, right? Trail 81 exit After the trail we all kinda split up (after we lost Kyle with a flat tire and took a while to get back to him!) and Thor and I headed back towards Suches. Obligatory snow photo to show that it was actually pretty cool up there... Overall, we had a fantastic trip. Pushed the bikes pretty hard, and ourselves, but we had fun, helped each other, and had a great time. Below is a video of an overview of the trip. Some of the highlights. It's hard to put three days of riding into a 10 minute video but I tried my best to capture some of the fun stuff and the laughs we had riding. You will hear me "talking to myself" some, as a couple of us had communicators, and excuse my language in a few spots. :) Here's the link to the video of the full length of the Trail 81 section, I've had a few friends ask about how it was for a bigger bike. While the 950 SE is a bigger bike than most single cylinder dual sports, it's not like you are riding a GS thru there (width wise). We had no issues at all, but Thor and I have also done a 24 hour hare scramble (Perry Mountain) on the 950's so we aren't afraid to ride fun single track with the bikes. Thanks for reading thru my volume, hope you enjoyed reading it! Jeff aka SpeedyR If you've gotten this far and want to watch the video posted above on youtube but in full HD, click the link below to download the mp4 file in full HD glory. Ideal if you have a TV that you can view the video, or just want to actually see what it looks like without all of the youtube pixelation and compression. https://www.planetadams.com/media/movies/ right click on the SM+500ride.mp4 file and save it to watch once it downloads. Much better than youtube but not as convenient. Cheers!